Colorado’s Income Growth Just Did Something Unusual (For Us) — Stayed Average

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Apartment construction in Denver at 16th and Pearl on June 12, 2019.

Personal income in Colorado grew 3.4 percent in the first quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That number matches the average growth rate for the U.S., but it still came as a bit of a surprise.

"Colorado's not used to being average," Andrew Friedson, assistant professor of economics at CU Denver said. "Especially over the last couple years, where we've been exceptionally strong."

There was a substantial drop in personal incomes across the finance and insurance industry in Colorado, more than any other sector. Finance positions weigh heavily in Colorado's job mix, and a rough start to the year for the stock market probably dragged down incomes.

On the other hand, farm and mining incomes were a big bright spot, welcome news to the rural corners of Colorado. Farms in particular have been weighed down in recent years by low crop prices. The latest crop price data shows signs that prices are on the up and up again.

Still, Friedson called Colorado's economy "elite," and stressed that the income number was nothing to worry about yet.

"It's hard to know if this is going to be something long term or if this is just a blip," he said.

The U.S. is in its longest economic expansion ever. While those positive trends aren't restricted by time per se, they also don't last forever. In a recent survey by CU Boulder, business leaders expressed growing negative sentiment about the state and national economies going into the third quarter.